Chia Ti Lik’s Blog

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Seventeen years on … The Same Road, The Same Reason

Seventeen years ago, i was placed at a crossroads. I was forced to decide for myself what i wanted myself to be. I took the hard choice, emerged stronger and more confident [well not really that confident yet cos i was a really timid kid in the past] as a result. Pulling yourself up from a life situation on your own through your own strength and through a good hard objective look at the facts does something to the ego within. It was not a bad thing, in fact it was good phase of transformation.

Seventeen years ago, I dived headlong into my taekwondo training. During that time i was in national service, to me life was then just camp, training and sleep. When i started school in NUS, life was school, training and the much needed bed and nothing else. It did wonders for my health, psychological well being, mental strength. I never looked during the golden years.

Then i made a very stupid decision when I qualified as a lawyer. Faced with pressures at work. I made one of my worst decisions in life, to cease the hard training i had to free up time for other pursuits.

Things went downhill eversince I guess. I used to be able to be very much self-assured, being totally unaffected by things and comments which occurred around myself. Since then i was caught in the swirl of life. My steps towards advancement and achievement brought me further and further away from self assurance to relying on the approval of loved ones.

Such a development makes one reliant on the opinion of others instead of being sure of what they are and what they want to be.

It is when people get cluttered with too many motives, too many distractions and too many concerns do they lose sight of themselves. I did.

Clearing out my wardrobe yesterday afternoon, I found my long unused Taekwondo uniforms 🙂 its about time i went back to training. I did. And now i am aching all over. 🙂 🙂

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November 30, 2009 Posted by | Life | 7 Comments

We are here … because we chose to be here

Thats the answer i got from reading a book.
Inevitably, we are the ones who chose the paths that we are treading on now. For everthing that each and every human being faces, there is essentially no one else to blame except ourselves. That’s the negative and pessimistic way of seeing it.

Opportunities for growth would be the positive way to call it. There are lessons in life to learn as we do with each passing day.

There are no problems but merely opportunities for us to chose what we want to be in relation to what we are facing.

Life should be lived for the purpose of growth. AND Growth comes about from the way problems are dealt with.

That is easier said than done.

What cannot be denied however is that until the growth is achieved, the life lessons continue to be repeated, the lessons continue to be repeated because we have not learnt enough to progress to the next stage and we remain stuck in our patterns.

And if we fail to learn our lessons in this life. We return for the next to repeat the same lessons in a different context.

Perceived problems cause us to react from instinct and response. We react because we fail to watch ourselves and our thoughts.
The longer and more repeatedly we fall prey to our own reactions, we lose the opportunities to clear the lessons we were originally poised to learn.

And when a life is spent without progress in the way problems are dealt with and responses / reactions checked – the lesson is not learnt.

Inevitably, we inadvertently choose to return to the path with experiences in store which cause us to react the most.

These are concepts which were long provided to me but which i took some time to understand.

Understanding of such a concept cannot come from knowing the words. Understanding comes from living the experiences in the words. Occasionally i do have glimpses of clarity to know that rather than taking time into the next life to understand the words, why not take a good hard look at our mental and emotional responses to things / events right now?

I did something odd yesterday and today. I rearranged my wardrobe and belongings. I realised attachment looked at and addressed transmutes itself to other forms of attachment.

Wanting to clear my heart and my mind, i set down to reducing the number of belongings once again.
Once again, I realise that I do in fact relish the idea of being possessionless.

I thought of many adages, and how true some of them ring over and over again.

To be willing to completely give up something, would you be able to truly possess it.

To be willing to live and embrace life – warts and all its attendant problems – to the extent of giving it up, would you be truly free from the worry of not having life and the fear of dying.

To be willing to be poor, actually enables you to feel rich.
To be willing to lose freedom, actually frees you from all restrictions.

To be attached to something, brings about opportunities of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
To be able to look into and beyond the trappings of everyday life, will enable you not to be shackled by them.

To be willing to die and / or lose everything, actually enables you to live life more fully.

To have nothing, enables you not to lose anything.

I cannot help but acknowledge the wisdom of the words “there are no obligations but only opportunities”, “there are no problems but only circumstances”.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

The Eagle has landed…. The Eagle has landed…. :) – Yes, it landed twice :)

Multiple meanings can be conveyed by the above phrase.

Many a time, we hear that as a cliched codeword in spy/comedy movies as in the phrase being used as a code for communicating that a long awaited contingency has occurred.

Of late i had been battling Law Society complaints, lawsuits, divorce proceedings. I also had a birthday which had had been the worst in my entire life. I had came under scrutiny for having dabbled in a few cheap bikes. I was made to feel as it the dabbling in the bikes was a heinous sin. I was also made to feel that I was the scum of the earth.

The Eagle landed on me twice during this period. No, I did not visit the Bird Park during my US trip in August. Nor did the American Bald Eagle try to lay its talons on me when i was a guest there. And no it was not the law soc complaints. And neither was it the lawsuits.

How then did the Eagle land on me twice?

Back home, we all know that the Eagles have landed. They landed somewhere in Idaho, USA where the F-15SG detachment training squadron is. Its all in the papers. All pomp and fanfare. Taxpayers’ money. That’s what its all about. 🙂

I have no complaints about the F-15SGs, I just don’t like how sometimes the deals are structured. The planes seem a little expensive to me somewhat… 🙂

Nevertheless, i will confess to my preoccupation with the F-15. The preoccupation started since i was a child. It came after I won a small 1/144 scale F-15A Tamiya model in a lucky draw of sorts. I was about 3-4 years old then. but I managed to put the plane together despite my age.

When i completed the plane, I proudly said to myself that I would pilot it. Big dreams i had.

Until then, the Singapore Air Defence Command [knowledgeable guys will know that it was not called the Republic of Singapore Air Force as yet then] was stuffed with stuff like hand-me-down Hunters, ex-USN mothballed Skyhawks, used T-33s, ex-Omanese battle-damaged Strikemasters, but at least brand new F-5E Tiger IIs. Singapore was through and through a 3rd world nation.

Short of becoming an Israeli, Japanese, Saudi Arabian or American fighter pilot there is nowhere i am getting near an F-15 Eagle. Or so it seems.

However, at the age of 4, i told myself there is nothing stopping our country from getting this plane.

At the age of 8, after staring wide eyed, speechless and transfixed for a many minutes, I went back to school and i insisted to all my friends that i had seen an F-15 roar over my home. Yes in Singapore skies. I got laughed at by all of them.

Several years later through careful observation i did find out that American planes did stopover in Singapore, P-3 Orions on maritime watch duty, C-5A Galaxies, C-144 Starlifters lifting God knows what stuff. I smiled to myself knowing that was nothing stopping an F-15 from dropping over when it had to. 🙂

I also did find out that our fighter pilots had taken part in the Red Flag Exercises in the late 80s and early 90s. Our Skyhawks and Tigers went side by side with F-15s. That fact brought the possibility a little closer – a little more consolation.

At the end of primary 6, after my PSLE examinations, being doomed to failing eyesight, the pilot dream was drifting further and further away but that did not stop me from rewarding myself with 3 model aircraft kits – all from Hasegawa. 1/72 scale models. I was only 12, I could not afford the 1/48 and 1/32 scale types.

The three were: An F-15C single seater, an F-15D twin seater, and an F-15E Strike Eagle. See the similarity with 3 bikes in the garage?

Mum discovered the boxes in my cupboard and thought i was mad. I was. I still think i am.

Now that the Air Force has finally gotten the F-15SG which to my understanding is an updated version of the F-15E, the thought of touching this plane and piloting it would be close to coming true. But then again i am not a pilot, so how can it come true?

Has anyone ever noticed that the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence can sometimes pilot our Air Force Fighter Jets under the watchful eye of air force instructors when they are not qualified pilots in the first place? 🙂

This now adds to my reasons of why the PAP regime needs to be overthrown. Now that the F-15SG in in our stable. Kicking out the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence out from office would bring added personal benefits. The allure and temptation to ride this bird is something that cannot be underestimated. 🙂 Talk to the pilots or aspiring pilots, they will tell you.

Now i did not intend to have my right minded political aspirations tainted by whimsical desires. Even though these desires are not necessarily bad in the first place and the people in office are also not necessarily good as well. However, as it is always better to declare it now rather than to be accused of later, when critics call my materialised visits to the F-15 squadron in Singapore as an brazen abuse of power.

Apart from childhood dreams and personal aspirations which may or may not come true, on the level of reality, the phrase “the Eagle has landed” carries special meaning and significance for me as well.

Battling bike repairs and offers from a tenacious dealer who offered to buy my Shadow 400 for export to India. I had deliberated with much angst about letting go of my best conditioned bike for some improvement in cashflow as well as an test of self-denial, relinquishment and detachment.

The cute thing about the Shadow 400 was that there was a characteristic Eagle head on the front wheel mudguard.

Riding along Cantonment Road about two months back, the Eagle head fell off onto the road with a full bodied metallic clunk. It fell off right in front of a crowd waiting for a bus at a bus-stop.

I had to hastily park my bike and run back 100 meters or so to the spot.  I ran back with my helmet still on. The crowd was waiting for my arrival and was smiling at me – not unkindly but kindly and amusedly. They had witnessed a bike falling apart whilst in motion. Commuters waiting for the bus were kind enough to pick up the Eagle head off the road so it would not be run over by the passing vehicles.

Recovering the Eagle head with an embarassing smile, i made no attempt to offer explanations as to how the Eagle head could have come off.

I could not have offered any explanations as to how the Eagle head came off. The crowd understood and smiled. No explanations were needed. The truth is – the bike was falling apart – there was no way to deny that.

I did had to endure some giggles but none of the giggles were the malicious sort, for there is nothing untoward in having a bike fall apart and there is also no one-upmanship to witness some poor biker’s Eagle head fall off and nothing to crow about as well.

I thanked the kind souls who reached out to save my Eagle. I had a good laugh at myself as i walked back to my hastily parked Shadow. I got the Eagle head refixed back soon thereafter at a cost.

Doing my careful calculations, I decided that renewing the COE for my shadow 400 and keeping it for good was the wise thing to do (for this bike was one with the best engine and physical condition I ever had – yes even though it had parts dropping off). I scrounged S$18/- for the vehicle inspection, S$61 for the road tax and another S$923/- to renew my Shadow for another 10 years.

I had thought to myself: Though this ride is not a Strike Eagle, it was firstly paid by myself – not paid for by taxpayers’ money – which is something to be proud of. Furthermore, in renewing the COE to keep it, I had contributed to tax with my money. Next, it was mine at least for the next 10 years without further payments to be made. AND LASTLY, there was also an Eagle head at the front. 🙂 What more can i ask for?

There is nothing more blissful in life than to be wisely contented with what is truly yours is it not? Or so it seems. 🙂

And as if almost on cue, as i was riding to office this morning , the Eagle head dropped off again. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment